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The Big Labor aroma in Tacoma

By Michelle Malkin  •  September 21, 2011 12:58 PM

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you’re familiar with the “aroma in Tacoma” — that infamous odor caused by the pulp mills and cow manure.

Well, there’s a different kind of aroma overtaking the city. It’s the stench of Big Labor intransigence as the public teachers’ union defies a court order to end its school strike. They’re on day six of job abandonment. For the children!

Striking teachers in Tacoma, Washington, walked picket lines for a sixth day on Tuesday, defying a judge’s back-to-work order and facing possible court sanctions as school officials canceled classes again for 28,700 students.

Contempt-of-court notices were mailed out this week to the roughly 1,900 teachers in the Tacoma School District who were found on Friday by Pierce County Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff to be in violation of his no-strike order.

The letter tells teachers accused of failing to report to work to prepare for court appearances scheduled to begin next Tuesday, if the strike drags on that long.

Only about 90 teachers reported for work on Tuesday, and district officials said the 57 schools would remain closed again on Wednesday in anticipation of the strike continuing despite a new contract offer presented to the union.

Teachers from the state’s third-largest public school district walked off the job September 13 after contract talks hit a stalemate over staffing policies, class size and salaries.

Labor negotiations in Tacoma began May 31, and the teachers have been without a contract since September 1.

The latest 14-hour bargaining session ended at about 2:15 a.m. local time on Tuesday, shortly after the district offered new concessions. But by mid-afternoon, teachers were prepared to continue the strike on Wednesday, union spokesman Rich Wood said.

Despite huge concessions from the district, the union refuses to budge.

The judge overseeing the case may okay a replacement worker policy for the district.

Teachers are recruiting some of the idle students as human shields.

Democrat Gov. Christine Gregoire — long in the hip pocket of the public teachers’ union — is preparing to summon the parties to her office.

One family has had enough:

Tacoma teachers have been on the picket lines since last Tuesday, and for one family that’s already enough.

The Benthein sisters, Linnea, Skye, Autumn and Topanga, all miss the classroom. Their father, Michael, says it’s been tough for him and his wife to deal with.

But after watching the drama of the last week, including a picket line confrontation, and more than one courtroom showdown, he’s ready to move the kids to another school district.

“Transferring them over to Orting because it doesn’t look like there is an end in sight,” said Micheal. “How long is this going to go on?”

Related: What do teachers make in Tacoma?

Related: Why are there never any consequences for illegal teacher strikes?

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Posted in: Education,Unions

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